Religion scholar Reza Aslan has a new book called Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth and has been plugging it on the talk shows (like The Daily Show). Last week, Fox News had a hilariously boneheaded interview with him where they questioned why a Muslim should even have an opinion on Jesus. That took off on social media, most notably BuzzFeed, which asked Is This The Most Embarrassing Interview Fox News Has Ever Done?
On Wednesday, religion scholar Stephen Prothero took on the substance of Aslan’s book for CNN’s Belief Blog and cited a number of controversial things that Aslan has written. Aslan argues, for example, that Jesus was a violent revolutionary and was trying to become a worldly king.
Both Prothero and Aslan have Quaker connections. Aslan is a former intern at Friends Committee on National Legislation. In 2010, then FCNL Executive Secretary Joe Volk wrote about working with him, and Aslan is scheduled to speak at FNCL’s Annual Meeting this November. For his part, Prothero sometimes attends Friends meeting in Cape Cod, Mass., and once tried to get Stephen Colbert to convert to Quakerism.
Is Reza Aslan’s view of Jesus one that Friends identify with? And just how should Americans talk about controversial religious viewpoints?